One day I wondered: why couldn’t I add pasta to a Caesar Salad? It would be a combo lettuce/pasta salad. Apparently I wasn’t the first to think of this, evidenced by the 1000+ recipes I found online. Well! I could still invent my own version. I just wouldn’t read their recipes. I could make what I had pictured in my mind and go from there!
I usually order a Caesar salad with my meals when it’s available. I love the zingy flavors of Caesar dressing. I vaguely know that the dressing includes anchovies, but I don’t want to know the details. I didn’t want to learn how to make that zingy dressing quite yet, so I added a bottle of Caesar dressing to the grocery list for my P.S.’s next shopping trip. A bottle of “good Caesar dressing,” I said, doing a poor imitation of Ina Garten.
Also on the list was a 12 ounce box of rotini and my P.S. decided to be creative and brought me the colored kind. I wanted the colors of my salad to come from the tomatoes, green onions and lettuce, not the pasta. Drat. I ended up pulling a box of bowties out of the cupboard instead. It would be a more formal salad! Tie was not optional.
I brought a pot of water to boil, added some salt and cooked the bowties until they were just done, a mild al dente. I drained and rinsed them to stop the cooking and put them into a large bowl. I poured about ¾ cup of the Caesar dressing over the bowties and stirred well until they were all coated. Then I simply covered the bowl and put it into the refrigerator for the next day.
I diced up about 6 ounces of bacon and fried it until it was browned and crispy. I put it into a small container and refrigerated it for the next day also.
I didn’t want the salad greens to go soggy, so I waited until the next day to chopped up about 4 cups of Romaine lettuce and stored it in a separate container. I would mix just before serving.
I did the same with the cherry tomatoes, slicing them in half before putting into their own container.
I packed all of my containers in a cooler and added ice to transport my salad ingredients to our picnic an hour away. I filled the cooler with the rest of the ingredients as well. I had shredded Parmesan, garlic croutons and chopped green onions to add to my mixed salad.
Shortly before we were ready to serve I added the lettuce and the rest of the ingredients to the container and mixed it all well. I added the rest of the bottle of Caesar dressing, and the salad looked so festive and delicious! I added a sprinkling more Parmesan over the top along with croutons and set it on the buffet. I’d brought along disposable bowls and set them next to the salad bowl. Done!
We were so impressed with the fun aspect of having a lettuce and pasta salad at our picnic. There were many other dishes of course and even some others made by myself, but I liked this one best. It was so very easy to make ahead of time and transport. This salad was popular with the group too. I might need to learn how to make Caesar dressing so I can take full credit for the salad in the future. I’ll need to research that! And learn to accept anchovies into my life.
Pasta Caesar Salad
12 ounce box bowtie pasta; cooked according to directions to al dente (or pasta of choice)
Bottle of Caesar Dressing (I used Marzetti Supreme Caesar)
4 or 5 strips of bacon; diced
4-6 cups Romaine lettuce; chopped
8 ounces cherry tomatoes; halved
½ cup green onions; sliced thinly on the bias
½ cup Parmesan; shredded + more for garnish
Garlic salad croutons of your choice
Cook pasta according to box directions for al dente. Drain, rinse and put in bowl.
Toss pasta with ¾ cup salad dressing. Cover and chill overnight.
Fry bacon until it is crispy and browned, and refrigerate.
Prepare rest of ingredients and before serving toss together, adding more dressing if necessary.
Garnish with more shredded Parmesan.